My recent white paper, What Do We Buy and Where Does it Come From, concluded with a discussion of initiatives in many countries to reinvigorate domestic manufacturing in order to prevent the supply chain snarls that occurred during the pandemic. I pointed out that one stumbling block to this strategy is a general shortage of talent, particularly for the highest-level technical applications.
Well, Bloomberg recently published two articles that expand on this topic: America’s $52 Billion Plan to Make Chips at Home Faces a Labor Shortage, and $52 Billion Chipmaking Plan is Racing Toward Failure. They pointed out that Intel is currently investing $20 billion in two new computer chip plants near Columbus, Ohio that represent the first step toward what will ultimately be ten new domestic fabricators. In addition to the 3,000 people that will initially be employed in the Ohio Intel plants, many more will be required there for a new Honda electric vehicle plant and the expansion of Facebook’s data center. Additionally, 300,000 skilled workers will be needed to staff the other fabricators currently on the drawing board. Yet, the number of U.S. students pursuing advanced degrees in this field has not changed for thirty years. LinkedIn estimates that there will be 150 million new tech jobs globally in the next five years and Korn Ferry projects an 85 million shortfall in trained workers to fill them.
However, the talent shortage is not limited to tech workers. The first Intel plants will require 7,000 workers to build them, and large-scale tunnel projects in Baltimore and New York may require as many as 90,000 workers, many of them skilled engineers, electricians, ironworkers, and carpenters.